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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)

http://ijtir.hctl.org
Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6

Experimental Analysis on
Anaerobic Digestion of
Municipal Solid Waste
Aromal Thampan1, Munish Kumar Chandel2
aromal.iitr@gmail.com

Abstract
The application of anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste, though well
established in many European and other developed countries, the full scale anaerobic
digestion of MSW is still in its infancy in India. A total of six different samples of MSW
has been taken and anaerobically digested in Oxitop serum bottles and their biogas
and methane generation potential is studied. It is inferred that around 45% of the
biogas generated is methane taking into account that the gas collection was carried out
with glass syringe method, which is an approximate method. The theoretical methane
and biogas generation are compared to the experimentally derived results.
Also, the characterization of the MSW had been studied for the influent and effluent
samples experimentally. It had been found that the concentration of ammonical
nitrogen increases and the concentration of nitrate and total phosphorus in the
samples decreases at the end of anaerobic digestion.

Keywords
Anaerobic digestion; Municipal solid waste; Oxitop serum bottle; Methane; Biogas;
Ammonical nitrogen; Nitrate; Total phosphorus.

Introduction
Anaerobic digestion is a complex biological process in which microorganisms break down
biodegradable organic matter in the absence of oxygen and thus producing biogas [16]. It
is the processes where the wastes are segregated and are added to a closed chamber
inside which under anaerobic conditions, the organic fraction of the wastes undergo
biodegradation producing biogas and sludge.

1
2

Faculty Member, The ICFAI University, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India.


Assistant Professor, IIT Mumbai, MH, India.

Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,


Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

Page 1

HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


http://ijtir.hctl.org
Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6
The biogas produced is an energy source and replaces:
a)
b)
c)

Petrol for refueling vehicles


Coal for heat and energy production
Natural gas for municipal gas supply

The effluent of this process, i.e. biomass/sludge after stabilization can be used as a soil
conditioner. More over the anaerobic digestion process offers the possibility to recycle
nutrients, reduce green house emissions, reduce odours and controlled waste disposal
[2].

Method and Methodology


Municipal solid waste collection, grinding and mixing
The raw materials consisting of bio-degradable fraction of MSW of different composition
were collected and shredded to finer particles. The wastes were collected, segregated,
shredded and weighed as per the different compositions. The shredded MSW samples
were characterized for moisture content, total solids, volatile solids, total carbon, total
nitrogen, C/N ratio and COD using the standard methods.
This substrate was mixed with the fresh anaerobic seeding sludge collected from the
Sewage treatment plant in Saharanpur, Uttrakhand. The resultant mixture, called
feedstock was used in the reactors for anaerobic digestion process. A portion of this
feedstock was analyzed for its chemical composition.

Characterization of Sample
Moisture content: The moisture content for the waste samples and sludge was
determined by weight loss of compost sample (105oC for 24 hour) using the gravimetric
method [1].
Moisture content (%) =

* 100

Total solids and Total volatile solids: The total solids and total volatile solids were
determined for all the influent and the effluent samples as per the standard method
Total solids (%) = 100 moisture content
Total volatile solids = Total solids - Fixed solids
pH: As pH is an important parameter for an efficient anaerobic digestion process, regular
monitoring of pH has been done at an interval of every two days for the anaerobic
reactors. The pH was measured using a pH meter with a glass electrode, previously
calibrated and corrected for temperature. Sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3) was
added as to the reactors, as a buffer, for maintaining the pH in the desired range.
COD: The Chemical oxygen demand was determined for all the influent and effluent
samples as per the standard test procedure. A spectrophotometer was used for COD
determination [1].
Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,
Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6
Ammonical Nitrogen (NH3-N) and Nitrate (NO3-N): 50 ml samples were prepared and
the ammonical nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen were determined in a spectrophotometer [1].
Total phosphorus (TP): 100 ml samples were prepared for the determination of total
phosphorus. Total phosphorus (TP) was analyzed using stannous chloride method [1].

Experimental Setup
Oxitop apparatus and samples used: Oxitop bottles (WTW, Germany) of 312 ml with
working volume of 250 ml were used as anaerobic batch reactor. The Oxitop bottles were
washed thoroughly with chromic acid solution and distilled water. The bottles were dried
and placed in incubator in order to maintain the desired temperature conditions. Six
Oxitop bottles were used as reactors with different waste samples of composition as
shown in the table below.
Table 1: Compositions of MSW samples used for Oxitop experiment [20]
Sr.
No.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Population
range (in
millions)

Paper

Rubber,
leather and
Synthetics

Glass

Metal

Composta
ble
Matter

Inert
material

0.10.5
0.51.0
1.02.0
2.05.0
5.0
and
above
-

2.91
2.95
4.71
3.18
6.43

0.78
0.73
0.71
0.48
0.28

0.56
0.56
0.46
0.48
0.94

0.33
0.32
0.49
0.59
0.8

44.57
40.04
38.95
56.57
30.84

43.59
48.38
44.73
49.07
53.9

100

Figure 1: Oxitop bottle set-up


The total composition of each sample was made to 100g. The 6th Oxitop bottle was
completely filled with biodegradable fraction of the Municipal solid waste (100g).
Anaerobic sludge was used as feed (50g) and 100 ml water was added to make slurry
and the samples were kept at 300C in the incubator.

Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,


Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6

Anaerobic transfer and incubation of reactors


The procedure used by [23] was followed to anaerobically transfer the contents to bottles.
Oxitop bottles were flushed with 30% CO2 and70% N2 gas prior to the sealing of the
Oxitop head. Oxitop bottles were sealed with pressure sensors. Total slurry volumes
containing (sample 100g, sludge 50g and water 100ml) 250 ml were used in case of
Oxitop bottles in order to maintain appropriate liquid to void ratio for precision and
accuracy of results. Bottles were incubated in a temperature controller chamber at (30 +
or 2)0 C.

Biogas collection and analysis


Gas produced in Oxitop bottles was measured at regular intervals. Gas sampling and
removal during incubation was performed with glass syringes (5-20 m, depending on gas
volume) equipped with 20-gauge needles. When the pressure within the Oxitop bottles
exceeds, the gas was released with the help of glass syringe and added cumulatively.
The main constituents of the biogas produced were methane and carbon dioxide.
Methane content in the biogas was measured and recorded after passing the total biogas
through Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution. The biogas when inserted through syringe
into the Sodium hydroxide solution, the carbon dioxide gas, dissolves in the solution and
the methane gas was collected in the syringe. The amount of methane reported
throughout is after blank correction.
The theoretical methane gas production was calculated from the COD of the MSW
samples and compared with the experimental results.

Results and Discussion


Proximate analysis
The proximate analysis for the six Oxitop samples was determined experimentally and is
tabulated in table below.
Table 2: Proximate analysis result for Oxitop samples
Sample
No.

Sample

1.

O1

2.

O2

3.

O3

4.

O4

5.

O5

6.

O6

Initial
Final
Initial
Final
Initial
Final
Initial
Final
Initial
Final
Initial
Final

Moisture
content
(%)
32.9
44.15
29.24
37.38
32.69
24.7
38.53
34.32
21.46
24.5
71.35
25.52

T.S.S
(%)
67.1
44.4
70.96
64.20
68.31
65.30
69.47
37.8
78.54
67.00
28.65
64.8

V.S.S
(%)
53.08
27.70
56.41
55.2
54.17
46.2
54.14
20.70
64.31
22.20
6.39
27.6

Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,


Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

Ash
content
(%)
5.31
2.77
5.64
5.52
5.42
4.62
5.41
2.07
6.43
2.22
6.4
2.8
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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6
The samples O1, O2, O3, O4, O5 and O6 represent Oxitop samples of different
compositions as discussed above. O2 was the Oxitop bottle that did not generate any
biogas and this is evident from its V.S.S values for its initial and final samples.
The samples were kept in the incubator under a controlled temperature of 3020 C and
the biogas production, the methane and the carbon dioxide generated from it was
recorded daily and tabulated. The graphs showing the cumulative biogas, methane and
carbon dioxide generation for all the six Oxitop bottles were plotted and shown below.

Cumulative generation (ml)

Sample O1
CH4 GENERATED = 60 ml

200

CH4 THEORETICAL =
1455 ml

150
100

0.004 m3 CH4 /kg


Cumulative
biogas

50
0
1

7 10 13

Time (days)

Cumulative
methane
Cumulative
CO2

Sample O3

Cumulative generation (ml)

CH4 THEORETICAL = 1648.48 ml


1500

CH4 GENERATED = 332 ml

1000
500

0.0182 m3 CH4/kg

0
1 5 9 13

Time (days)

Cumulative
biogas
Cumulative
methane
Cumulative
CO2

Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,


Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6

Cumulative generation (ml)

Sample O4
2500

CH4 GENERATED = 909 ml

2000

CH4 THEORETICAL = 1535.5 ml

1500

0.053m3 CH4/kg CODadded

1000

cumulative
biogas

500
0
1 12 23 34 45

Time (days)

Cumulative
methane
Cumulative
CO2

Cumulative generation (ml)

Sample O5
2000

CH4 THEORETICAL = 1717.89

1500

CH4 GENERATED = 818 ml


0.042 m3 CH4/kg CODadded

1000

cumulative
biogas

500
0
1 9 17 25 33 41 49

Time (days)

Cumulative
methane
Cumulative
CO2

Cumulative generation (ml)

Sample O6
CH4 THEORETICAL = 1985.524 ml
CH4 GENERATED = 70 ml

250
200
150

0.00312 m3 CH4/kg CODadded

100
Cumulative
biogas

50
0
1

7 10 13

Time (days)

Cumulative
methane
Cumulative
CO2

Figure 2: Cumulative Biogas and methane generation for Oxitop samples

Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,


Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6

Characterization of the sample


The characterization of the Oxitop bottle samples was done before and after the
experiment and is tabulated in below.
Table 3: Characterization of Oxitop bottle samples
Samp
le No.

Sample

1.

O1

2.

O2

O3

4.

O4

5.

O5

6.

O6

pH

COD
(mg/L)

Nitrate
Ammonical Total
nitrogen nitrogen
Phosphorus
(mg/L)
(mg/L)
(mg/L)
Initial
7.21
16432
282
174
6.0
Final
5.55
11324.28
105.5
215
3.0
Initial
7.07
22739.50
260
214
15.8
Final
5.65
19193
152
230
15.5
Initial
7.00
18619
292.5
122.5
10.5
Final
5.40
9866
205.5
220
5.5
Initial
6.99
17343
366.3
198.5
2.8
Final
5.68
3028.43
290
355
1.5
Initial
7.10
19403
297
192
7.8
Final
5.12
3864.04
205.5
270
5.0
Initial
6.6
22422.64
316.5
228.5
15.9
Final
5.25
10943
292
455
12.0
Samples O1, O2, O3, O4, O5 and O6 represent Oxitop samples.

Discussion
Six samples of municipal solid waste has been prepared according to the population of
Indian cities as discussed above and was kept in incubator under controlled temperature
range of 3020 C. Anaerobic bacteria has been brought into the reactors in the form of
seeding sludge brought from the UASB reactors of the Saharanpur sewage treatment
plant, Uttrakhand in the ratio of 20% of the total volume. All the Oxitop bottles produced
initial biogas for a period of 5-6 days after which no gas was produced. The whole
samples seized within a week. The pH of all the samples has been checked and it was
well below the optimum range (6-8) (Table 4).
Table 4: Oxitop samples pH after 6 days
Sample
pH

O1
3.8

O2
3.2

O3
4.1

O4
3.6

O5
4.4

O6
3.9

The whole experiment was repeated with a biodegradable fraction to sludge ratio of 50%.
The samples shown good results for the initial 10 days. The biogas production seized as
happened in the initial set-up. The pH of the samples has been checked and was in the
range of 3 to 4. The seizing of the biogas generation for the other samples were probably
that the anaerobic medium was not able to further increase the pH after the acidogenic
phase.
A third set of samples has been installed with a waste to sludge ratio of 1:1. Sodium
hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3) was added to the Oxitop bottles as a buffer for
maintaining optimum pH inside the reactors. The Oxitop bottles produced good results for
sample 4 and sample 5. Sample 2 produced no biogas and were probably due to the
Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,
Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6
problem with the Oxitop bottle. Sample 1, 3 and 6 shown good results for two weeks after
which it seized again. The samples 4 and 5 generated good amount of biogas and the
reading was taken for 45 days. The graphs have been plotted above for the biogas
generation of all the samples.
The experimental study of the Oxitop bottles revealed that pH of the media is a main
parameter concerning the life of the anaerobic process. Also a minimum waste to sludge
ratio of 1:1 or more is required for the efficient anaerobic digestion of MSW.
The characterization of all the samples has been done for all the samples before and after
the experiment. The chemical characteristics such as pH, moisture content, TVS, VSS,
Ash content, Chemical oxygen demand (COD), nitrate, ammonical nitrogen and total
phosphorus has been found out experimentally by standard procedures and is tabulated
and shown in table 4.3. From the table it is clear that that the COD of municipal solid
waste samples are high varying 16000 - 23000 mg/L. The COD removal has been
maximum for Oxitop sample 4 (82.54%), followed by Oxitop sample 5 (80.0%) (Table 5).
This indicates that in these two samples, the biodegradation of organics has been
maximum and hence the higher breakdown of COD.
Table 5: Result for COD removal of samples
Sample
No.
COD
removal
(%)

O1

O2

O3

O4

O5

O6

31.08

15.59

47.01

82.54

80.0

51.2

The Oxitop sample O2 produced no gas and that may be due to the leakage of the Oxitop
bottle. The samples other than O4 and O5 generated good initial gas and after 14 days, it
production suddenly stopped. The Oxitop samples O4 and O5 shown good results and
continued for around 45 days.
The characterization results of the samples clearly show the increase in the concentration
of ammonical nitrogen in the effluent samples and decrease in case of nitrate and
phosphorus concentrations (Table 3).
The Oxitop bottle samples 4 and 5 continued for around 50 days and shown good results.
The biogas generated for these samples were calculated as 0.12 m3/kgCODadded and
0.093m3/kgCODadded respectively. The methane of these samples was found to be
0.053m3/kgCODadded and 0.042m 3/kgCODadded. Sample 4 was able to generate 44.56%
CH4 of the total biogas produced and sample 5 generated 45.2% CH4 of the total biogas
generated.

Conclusion
The initial trial experiments using Oxitop bottle samples with biodegradable fraction of
MSW to sewage sludge ratios of 5:1, 2:1 and 1:1 inferred that a minimum ratio of 1:1 or
more should be used as seed for efficient anaerobic digestion as the trials using the ratios
of 5:1 and 2:1 failed to continue more than ten days.

Aromal Thampan, Munish Kumar Chandel,


Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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HCTL Open International Journal of Technology Innovations and Research (IJTIR)


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Volume 15, May 2015
e-ISSN: 2321-1814, ISBN (Print): 978-1-62951-974-6
The initial set of experiments stopped working within ten days. The pH of all these
samples was found to be less than the optimum range and hence pH is a very important
parameter that governs the anaerobic digestion.
\The theoretical values for methane generation for Oxitop bottles were calculated as O1 =
1455 ml, O3 = 1648.48 ml, O4 = 1535.5 ml, O5 = 1717.89 ml and O6 = 1985.524 ml. At
the end of the experiments, it could be inferred that 40-45% of the total biogas produced
was methane gas.
Ammonia nitrogen accumulates in the reactor during the course of anaerobic digestion as
observed from the results. This accumulation is caused from the protein fraction of the
OFMSW. The OFMSW, which contains an average 4% of protein content (major source
of nitrogen) is removed via ammonication process and is accumulated as ammonia-N
[32].
Nitrate nitrogen (NO3-N) and phosphorus concentrations decreased in the
characterization of the effluent samples of the reactors. This decrease in concentration is
because, the nitrogen and phosphorus in the samples act as nutrients for the growth of
anaerobic bacteria and are used up during the course of the process [32].
The study infers that the municipal solid wastes are rich in organic content and its
potential for the generation of huge amount of biogas having methane in surplus quantity.
This energy can be a viable option and can be replaced for other sources of energy such
as petrol, coal and natural gas. Anaerobic digestion is a stable and is the prime option for
waste treatment in many of the developed countries. Though there are some concerns
regarding the failure of the process due to volatile fatty acids and ammonia nitrogen
accumulation and lowering of the pH, this is one technology to look forward as these
concerns would be overcome in the near future especially in developing countries
including India.

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Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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Volume 15, May 2015
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Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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[32]

Aromal Thampan; Avisek Mukherjee, Design of a Bioreactor Landfill for Delhi City,
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Experimental Analysis on Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste.

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